Beaten Back To Pure
The Burning South
Devil Doll Records
The Burning South is a swaggering, punch-drunk strut that effortlessly melds with the best of doompunk and greasy southern rock. As much Khanate as it is the Antiseen and Masters of Reality, here Beaten Back To Pure are burrowing deeper towards their roots, abandoning some of the more monolithic elements of their sound for roadhouse rock menace. It took a couple of listens for The Burning South to grow on me, but I assure you, it did.
Vocalist Ben Hogg is Layne Staley, he’s Jeff Clayton, he’s Tom G. Warrior, he’s David Allan Coe, he’s the dying breaths of an old man — it’s such an original vocal style, while his “deathgrowl” is every bit as feral and bowel — churning as Bill Steer and Mortician’s Will Rahmer. And the rest of the band is beyond shit hot, too! “American Vermin” starts off as death-punk boogie shake — The Cramps crossed with Corrosion of Conformity — and somehow downshifts into total suicide ambience that comes across like a bluesy Low, pin-drop despair, but delivered with amazing sensitivity for the bruisers who just wrecked the joint thirty seconds ago –before the music comes roaring back in at a grungy pace and the guitar player rips out a total heart-wrenching bluesy solo that could make you cry. And that’s just the first fucking song! These boys aren’t messing around anymore; their musicianship is evolving by leaps and bounds, and they’ve got ideas to spare.
“Smothered In Sundress” boasts a repetitive doom riff that’s delivered at twice normal speed — they’re not as much doom anymore, more like a bluesy southern punk take on the more free-ranging aesthetic of Queens of the Stone Age and The Melvins and Eyehategod. “One Shovel and a Place To Die” is up there, with Down’s second album, as all-time classic roadhouse doom. Mosh-riffs dripping with amber liquid are tossed out like meat to the front rows, before an acoustic Dirt bridge heralds in soaring riffs more akin to the Verve or Dambuilders, and on to speed-metal solo heroics and the metallic undercurrent swells up — the constant is Boss Hogg’s inhuman almost intestinal grumblings. It’s like a song cycle in miniature.
“Where The Sewer Meets The Sea” is rockabilly, roadhouse country sludge, kinda like Merle Haggard or The Outlaws or Charlie Daniels gone death metal, only with Satan deciding to take a turn on backing vocals. “Pillars of Tomorrow, Pies Of Yesterday” has these trebly undercurrents to the central elephantine rampage riff that adds an extra bit of tension; the whole song has a fabulous Touch and Go sociopathology, like Ministry and Big Black coldness underneath the whole thing. The vocals are clean as a glinting blade, the playing is assassin cold, with some brutality-a-go-go riffs strewn throughout like old thrash crossover. “Vertigo” is a punishing, buffeting instrumental that rocks like a beast, faster than most anything they’ve done elsewhere — worships the riff, feels like quick punches to the sternum.
“Running Out Of Neck” unfolds easily and effortlessly, like the multipart epic that it is, thundering gloom stomps along with deadly efficiency, almost Black Sabbath-level classic heavy metal thunder before quite literally fading out into an almost unbearably gentle and beautiful mystery song; quiet enough to be almost out of earshot, Hogg sings, seemingly to himself, for comfort or anything to remind himself he’s not alone and there’s guitar falling like crystal shards… breathtaking.
A study of power and raw contrasts. I can easily see a new outlaw country movement rising up around these boys. Where’re their peers?
Devil Doll Records: www.devildollrecords.com